I imagine the trend of pledging resolutions at the flip of the calendar was started by a lazy Greek named Prokrastinat. As days grew shorter and nights grew longer, he would commit to friends and family and improvement of his status quo. A solidified promise to change his ways, and prove to everyone that he had the intestinal fortitude to enhance his quality of life. But as the days began to grow longer and the nights became shorter, he would fail and be exposed for his lack of positive action.
There are countless reports outlining the horrendous success rates of New Years’ resolutions. Many reputable outlets, such as Forbes, Business Insider, Psychology Today, The Miami Herald, and USA Today, have exposed the shortcomings. The two major reoccurring narratives are: 1) 80% of resolutions fail by the end of February, or 2) only 40% of resolutions are successful by the six-month mark. In either measure, it becomes clear that you must be greater than the statistics should you want to accomplish your year-end mission. Jim wants to lose weight, Sheryl wants to quit smoking, Don wants to lower his blood pressure, Ken wants to give up fast food, Debra wants to read more, Kevin wants to spend more time with his kids, and Donna wants to save more of her paycheck. Did you identify with one? Did your mind drift to an example closer to home? Why? Not why did you pick the obstacle, but why did you wait until an arbitrary event to spark the improvement?
Fundamentally, the idea of evolution is real. On the shoulders of adaption exists the unequivocal need to constantly seek improvement. Regardless of the verbiage included in a New Year’s resolution, each one can be dissected to the theory of personal growth. Certainly, I do not agree with Mr. Charles Darwin’s every argument. However, in his writing Origin of Species, he suggests that an organism that embraces and utilizes change will experience superior and/or longer life. This builds on the concept that the need to alter status quo, especially removing detrimental aspects, will allow for a greater life journey. On the surface, I could not agree more. On December 31st, the causes that we commit ourselves to are undoubtedly more than a change in our lifestyle. It is a complete overhaul of the aspect(s) in your life you no longer want to exist. It is saying yes to more life, and no to stunted opportunity. It is saying yes to bettering yourself, and no to things that seek to limit your potential. It is saying yes to who you are supposed to be, and no to the negatives of your past. At its core, it is a decision to say yes to better ways of living, and saying no to all that seeks to destroy.
The reason, in my opinion, that these New Years’ Resolutions fail is because there is no conviction behind the commitment. Leading up to the change of the year, it is a hot topic discussion. Many people are tossing around ideas of what will take place in the following 365 & 1/4thdays. I argue that many of those who fail, simply resolve to transform in the wake of finding common ground with societal expectations. People expect people to seek self-improvement. Thus, we view those who do not pledge themselves to growth as either lazy and complacent, or self-absorbed in their belief they do not need change. Nearly all persons would make effort to avoid being categorized in either of those groups. A simple solution to avoiding societal shame exists in the form of trivial words uttered as progression during the following calendar year. There is no personal conviction behind their words. This leads to the true core of the issue. Those who truly find themselves motivated by the need to develop do not need a meaningless date to begin said change.
I propose a swift reallocation of our energy to the idea of goal-setting upon inception of the contemplations of improvements. This is necessary for three reasons. The first is that when you realize a change must be made, any delay is detrimental. Think about any of the aforementioned examples. You delay on weight loss, continued self-loathing and/or health issues. You delay on saving money, you continue to dig your debt-pit deeper. You delay on spending time with your loved ones, neurologically you suffer and emotionally they do. The second reason is conviction. As I mentioned above, the difference between success and failure is the will to persist, which is fueled by the conviction to improve. There is a reason these thoughts enter your mind. You are quite aware of the need to enhance a certain aspect of your being. Any delays in implementation, diminishes the urgency and importance that is being pressed upon your mind. Thus, massively reducing the likelihood of attainment. The third and final reason is that goal-setting can/should be incremental. Dissect the “where you want to be” from an overwhelmingly daunting task to accomplishable weekly or monthly milestones. A New Years’ Resolution to lose 50 pounds in a year may seem like an insurmountable obstacle. But, what about losing 4 pounds a month? 1 pound a week? We should all strive to be better, in whichever opportunity you determine that may be. The idea of goal-setting is simply serving as a catalyst for success.
By not seeking a feasible avenue to enhance your quality of life you are accepting your current position as the new norm for the remainder of your existence. I have yet to meet a person who can honestly state that they live with an absence of the desire to progress in at least one significant aspect. If that is you, or someone you know, send them my way. Until then, never cease chasing your goals. Be real with yourself about where you are and where you want to be. Lastly my fellow improvers, understand that we are not promised a tomorrow – so the best time to begin your transformation is today.